The American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) provides an alternative path to teacher certification in 11 states. The online, self-paced program offers the education and training typically obtained in a traditional teacher education program.
The online program cumulates with two exams—a subject area exam and a professional teacher knowledge (PTK) exam; passing both exams is a requirement for certification. On this page, we’ll specifically be breaking down the PTK exam.
Enrolling in the program requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Your degree does not have to be in the field you want to teach.
Once enrolled in the program, you will need yo send your official transcript to the American Board and pass a standard background check.
The PTK exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and one written response prompt for both test delivery methods. You have 150 minutes to answer the multiple-choice questions and 60 minutes to answer the written prompt.
The multiple-choice portion of the exam is divided into four content domains, each containing one to five topics.
Domain 1: Instructional Design (18%)
This domain assesses your knowledge and understanding of selecting, organizing, planning, and designing content. Focus areas include but are not limited to:
- Developing measurable objectives
- Managing content to enhance student learning at every skill level
- Developing critical thinking skills in students
- Recognizing the need for professional growth
You are also evaluated on your ability to recognize the multiple learning styles of students, support learner literacy, and comply with all laws and state regulations governing classroom practice, curriculum, and interactions.
Domain 2: Effective Instructional Delivery (32%)
There are five topic areas in this domain.
- Communicating effectively
- Providing clear and focused instruction
- Using effective questioning techniques
- Making efficient use of learning time
Domain 3: Classroom Management and Organization (30%)
There are five topic areas in this domain.
- Establishing smooth, efficient classroom routines
- Setting clear standards for classroom conduct and applying those standards fairly
- Routinely providing students feedback and appropriate reinforcement regarding their learning progress
- Expecting students to learn
- Involving parents and guardians in supporting instruction
Domain 4: Assessment (20%)
There are three topic areas in this domain.
- Monitoring student progress
- Understanding testing concepts
- Giving attention to high-needs students and the extra time and instruction they might need
The writing prompt is completed after you complete the multiple-choice section. If you complete the multiple-choice questions before time expires, you are not given more time for the written prompt.
You are asked to type your response or analysis in response to the prompt. Your answer is evaluated on how well you are able to communicate your message to the intended audience, not on your point of view.
You are scored on your ability to organize and focus your writing, your ability to develop and support your ideas, sentence structure, accurate spelling, and correct grammar. The computer interface does not provide spell or grammar checks, so be sure you have time to proofread your work before the time runs out.
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Once you have verified that you meet the eligibility requirements, register online at PearsonVUE. Be sure to follow the requirements for the state and program you want to certify. You’ll need your American Board identification number to register for the exam.
The enrollment fee is $1,900.00 and includes the online program, study materials, test for one subject area, and the PTK exam. You can pay the enrollment fee in one lump sum or in installments.
Financial aid (FAFSA), Montgomery GI Bill, or scholarships are unavailable. However, the state of Missouri offers assistance through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA)—check with a Missouri workforce center for more information.
Test Delivery Methods
You have the option to take the PTK exam at a PearsonVUE testing center or online with a remote proctor.
PearsonVUE testing centers are available nationwide and on select military installations overseas. Most testing centers offer appointments six days a week, holidays excepted. You will need your state-issued ID to check in for your exam appointment. The testing center does not allow reference materials, and scrap paper and a pencil are provided.
Remote Proctored Exam
Before you select the remote testing option, check to ensure that you have the required technology and a quiet space to take the exam. Required technology includes a computer or laptop with a working web camera and microphone, a cell phone that can send and receive texts, and a high-speed internet connection. During your remote testing session, you cannot get up from the computer or take breaks, and people cannot come and go from the room.
It is advised that you conduct a system test that can be found on Pearson OnVUE’s website before you select the remote option.
The multiple-choice section is graded on a scale ranging from 0 to 500. The passing score is 257.
The writing component is scored on a scale of 0 to 6. The passing score is 4. You must receive a passing score in both components to pass the PTK exam.
Receiving Your Score
After the exam, you will receive only an unofficial score report on the multiple-choice component. The written component takes five to seven days to score. Your official score report will be in your American Board online account. American Board also mails your certificate and score report to the address on file.
Retaking the Exam
You can retake the PTK exam three times. If you fail to pass the PTK exam after the third try, you will need to find another route to teacher certification. The retake fee is $195.00.
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How to Study for the Exam
How to Study Effectively
Your success on PTK test day depends not only on how many hours you put into preparing but also on whether you prepared the right way. It’s good to check along the way to see whether your studying is paying off. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking PTK practice tests to evaluate your progress. Practice tests are useful because they show exactly where you need to improve. Every time you take a free PTK exam practice test, pay special attention to these three groups of questions:
- The questions you got wrong
- The ones you had to guess on, even if you guessed right
- The ones you found difficult or slow to work through
This will show you exactly what your weak areas are and where you need to devote more study time. Ask yourself why each of these questions gave you trouble. Was it because you didn’t understand the material? Was it because you didn’t remember the vocabulary? Do you need more repetitions on this type of question to build speed and confidence? Dig into those questions and figure out how you can strengthen your weak areas as you go back to review the material.
Additionally, many PTK practice tests have a section explaining the answer choices. It can be tempting to read the explanation and think that you now have a good understanding of the concept. However, an explanation likely only covers part of the question’s broader context. Even if the explanation makes sense, go back and investigate every concept related to the question until you’re positive you have a thorough understanding.
Comprehend Each Topic
As you go along, keep in mind that the ABCTE PTK practice test is just that: practice. Memorizing these questions and answers will not be very helpful on the actual test because it is unlikely to have any of the same exact questions. If you only know the right answers to the sample questions, you won’t be prepared for the real thing. Study the concepts until you understand them fully, and then you’ll be able to answer any question that shows up on the test.
Strategy for PTK Practice
When you’re ready to start taking practice tests, follow this strategy:
- Remove Limitations. Take the first test with no time constraints and with your notes and PTK study guide handy. Take your time and focus on applying the strategies you’ve learned.
- Time Yourself. Take the second practice test “open book” as well, but set a timer and practice pacing yourself to finish in time.
- Simulate Test Day. Take any other practice tests as if it were test day. Set a timer and put away your study materials. Sit at a table or desk in a quiet room, imagine yourself at the testing center, and answer questions as quickly and accurately as possible.
- Keep Practicing. Keep taking practice tests on a regular basis until you run out of practice tests or it’s time for the actual test. Your mind will be ready for the schedule and stress of test day, and you’ll be able to focus on recalling the material you’ve learned.
How many questions are on the PTK exam?
There are 100 multiple-choice questions and one writing prompt on the PTK exam
How long is the PTK exam?
The PTK exam has a time limit of 150 minutes for the multiple-choice questions and 1 hour for the writing prompt.
What is a passing score on the PTK exam?
A passing score for the ABCTE PTK exam is 257.
How much does the exam cost?
The ABCTE PTK exam costs $1,900.00.
When will I receive my test scores?
You will receive an unofficial score report for the multiple-choice questions as soon as you complete the exam, while the report for the writing prompt takes 5-7 days to become available.